GMPA’s work in light of the Coronavirus outbreak

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We are living through one of the biggest global health crises of the last 100 years. There is not a single person unaffected by the threat of Coronavirus infection and the measures that have been put in place to keep the virus at bay.

This will be a particularly challenging time for people experiencing poverty, and those at risk of falling into poverty as many of the support services they rely on come under strain and have to adapt to growing levels of need.

At Greater Manchester Poverty Action we are looking to support local authorities and other stakeholders in the city region with responses to the virus, ensuring poverty is taken into account so that people on low incomes are supported as much as possible. We are part of the core team for Greater Manchester’s food response, which is working to support coordinated action on food across GM during the crisis.

Like many organisations, much of our normal work will progress at a slower pace, and all pre-arranged meetings including the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign group have either been postponed or moved to online conference calls. We will endeavour to maintain our regular newsletter, with the next edition after Easter on April 22nd (copy deadline April 15th) and as such we would welcome any articles and links to useful resources that we can include. Please let us have information about your own organisation’s response or situation but especially any positive stories or successes that we can share and that we all need to read at this very difficult time. We have also created a page on our website to help keep people up to date with the work that we are doing and to link through to up to date information and advice.

As we are only a small team with limited resources and capacity, we may not be as responsive to enquiries about other aspects of our work at this time. Additionally, it may not be possible to keep other parts of our website as up to date as we usually would over the coming months. We will do our best.

The government have stepped in with several measures to help people on low incomes and those who face a drop in income. There is more that will need to be done, and we will be supporting national campaigns and policy changes including through the End Child Poverty Coalition and End Hunger UK, to help add our voice to calls to increase support for people facing hardship.

Many thanks to all the people who have completed the two surveys we have been running. The results from the food providers survey have been sent through to a range of stakeholders, including the Combined Authority and the ten local authorities. We are also linking up with the VCSE infrastructure organisations so that they can make best use of the information being gathered.

Please take every possible care and thank you for all that you are doing,

Tom, Graham, John and Chris

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Food Poverty Action Plan Year 1

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Year 1 of the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan

By Tom Skinner

GMFPA logo cropped for GM Poverty AllianceIt is a year since we launched the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan with 150 people and organisations who had co-produced the Action Plan in our Food Poverty Alliance project. This article reviews the first year of progress towards the Plan’s vision, that “everyone in Greater Manchester enjoys good food and a better standard of living, and they look out for each other.”

Through the Food Poverty Alliance, 50 individuals and organisations have made over 100 pledges of action towards the Action Plan’s vision, including:

  • Apex Storage making five storage units available for individuals and businesses to donate unwanted cooking
    and gardening equipment
    that Cracking Good Food pass on to communities in need;
  • Kellogg’s reaching 70 local schools with breakfast club grants;
  • Sow the City mapping food provision in North Manchester – they have recently been commissioned to map in
    South Manchester as well, and aim to support mapping across GM;
  • The Salford Food Share Network supporting other boroughs to consider the potential for partnerships between
    food banks, food clubs and pantries, advice agencies, the council and other stakeholders;
  • Several Housing associations, councils and charities coordinating provision of food with activities for children
    and young people during school holidays.

We are working closely with most councils across GM, as well as GM Mayor Andy Burnham, the GM Combined Authority and the Health & Social Care Partnership, to discuss actions that can be taken by the public sector at the GM and borough level. For example, Tameside has:

  • established a strategic food partnership with food poverty as one of its themes;
  • included questions about food poverty in its public consultation survey and commissioned qualitative research
    to help understand how food poverty impacts residents, and the challenges for food banks and food pantries;
  • taken action (which is ongoing) to increase uptake of Healthy Start vouchers.

Another important activity has been to embed food poverty, and the Action Plan specifically, in the wider efforts to develop a comprehensive food strategy for the city region. These efforts are being led by GM’s strategic food board Good Food Greater Manchester, of which GMPA is a member. We are currently exploring how efforts to tackle food poverty can complement other sections of the food strategy, and are supporting a series of workshops to develop a cohesive and widely supported strategy.

Since the launch of the Action Plan, GMPA has seen encouraging increased interest in tackling poverty at a local level. Some local authorities are developing and implementing anti-poverty strategies, and there is significant interest in engaging people with lived experience of poverty in decision making e.g. through poverty truth commissions. We continue to campaign for employers across the city region to tackle in-work poverty by becoming accredited Living Wage Employers and signing up to the GM Good Employment Charter. There are now over 200 accredited Living Wage Employers based here, including Salford, Oldham and Manchester councils – see page 2 for more news from the GM Living Wage Campaign, another GMPA project.

Tom Skinner editorial article for GM Poverty Action

Tom Skinner, Director, GM Poverty Action

While I am delighted with the progress made in the first year of the Action Plan, there is much more to be done and GMPA remains committed to tackling food poverty and its underlying causes.

Tom Skinner,
Director, GM Poverty Action


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Tackling poverty: NHS

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Help us to inform the way the NHS tackles poverty

On March 27th, our director Graham Whitham will be attending a workshop at the King’s Fund in London exploring what more the NHS can do to tackle poverty. The workshop will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders with knowledge, expertise and experience of working with those in poverty, people from the NHS, and those who work in partnership with it.

The NHS Long-Term Plan sets out important commitments to reducing inequalities in health.  As part of this NHS England and Improvement want to do more to understand and maximise the NHS’ role in tackling poverty. This builds on previous work, including the King’s Fund report, Tackling poverty: Making more of the NHS in England, which set out how the NHS can tackle the risk of, and mitigate the impact of poverty in many ways, from its treatment impact to its role as an economic giant in every community.

This workshop will help inform:

  • the development of practical resources for local NHS leaders and institutions
  • strengthening the strategic case for the NHS to see tackling poverty as a core issue
  • supporting the NHS to work more closely with partners on poverty, with ultimate impacts in improving the
    health of those in, or at risk of, poverty

The King’s Fund will co-host this workshop with the Equality and Health Inequalities Team at NHS England and

GMPA is keen to support this work, and we know there is a lot of learning from work in Greater Manchester that could help inform the conversation. With the publication of the recent Marmot: Ten years on report, it is vital that we make stronger links between health and poverty.

In order to contribute as much as we can to the workshop we are asking people in our network to share information with us in advance. Graham will feed this into the discussion on March 27th, crediting organisations and individuals where appropriate.

Graham W NHS tackling poverty article for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham
Director of GMPA

Please share any good examples of current or recent case studies, reports or wider work where the NHS has tackled poverty successfully with partners in Greater Manchester. If you have a report/project site/short description of the work you are doing that you would be willing to share, please email Graham  by Friday March 20th.


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Mayoral election 2020

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Mayoral election represents an opportunity to push tackling poverty up the agenda

By Graham Whitham

Poverty is a growing problem in our city region with over 600,000 residents living in poverty. Greater Manchester is home to some of the UK’s most deprived neighbourhoods. Poverty and economic inequality in Greater Manchester results in widely varying health, education and economic outcomes for the city region’s residents. Poverty damages the lives of the people it effects, both in the here and now and in the long-term. High levels of poverty act as a drag on Greater Manchester, hindering the economic potential of the area and putting pressure on public services. Poverty, therefore, is everybody’s business.

Ahead of the Greater Manchester Mayoral election on Thursday May 7th, 2020, GMPA is calling on candidates to commit to tackling poverty in Greater Manchester. The Mayor can play an important role in this agenda, both through direct powers and by working with local authorities and key partners to implement innovative and consistent approaches to tackling poverty across the city region. Central to this agenda will be creating a strategic framework that ensures tackling poverty is a priority for the Mayor. Our asks set out what this framework should include. In some instances, it may be appropriate for the mayor to seek the devolution of further powers from central government in order to maximise the impact of local efforts to tackle poverty.

GMPA is calling for a number of measures, including:

•  The creation of a strategic framework for tackling poverty by

·Appointing a portfolio lead for poverty

· Introducing a socio-economic duty

·Embedding a focus on poverty in the refreshed GM Strategy.

•   A reduction in food poverty, with a strong focus on ensuring no child goes hungry.

•  The embedding of working with people with lived experience of poverty across all relevant areas of decision making.

•  A focus on the poverty premium that builds on GMPA’s research to better understand the nature of the
poverty premium in Greater Manchester and the establishment of  an incubator scheme for start-ups seeking
to tackle the poverty premium

•  Work to maximise the positive impact social security provision can have on tackling poverty in Greater
Manchester. This could include a GM wide benefit take-up campaign and the devolution of elements of the
welfare system so that we can do more to tackle poverty locally.

As we approach the election in May, we will be setting out further detail of the things we need to see happen across a range of policy areas including:

Graham W UK poverty strategy article for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham
Director of GMPA

•  Housing and homelessness

•  Creating an inclusive economy

•  In-work poverty

•  The poverty premium, and Social security.

We will be inviting external experts to write about these issues in greater detail in future editions of the newsletter.

With a huge amount happening across Greater Manchester to redouble efforts to tackle poverty, including the introduction of local poverty strategies, the mayoral election represents an opportunity to consolidate and strengthen anti-poverty efforts across the city region.



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Training Opportunities

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Training opportunities on poverty

GMPA is working in partnership with Policy North Training to provide training to organisations working to address poverty across the city region and the rest of the UK. We aim to support organisations to better understand some of the complexities around poverty and enable them to improve policy and practice as a result. Courses currently open to bookings are:

Our Maximising support for people on low incomes course will run on February 28th, April 28th and October 8th, 2020. This course is for VCSE and public sector organisations who work with people experiencing poverty and who wish to understand how to maximise support for their service users and those involved in service design and delivery. To book your place on this course click here.

The extremely popular Understanding poverty measurement, definitions and data course will run on March 12th and November 18th, 2020. This course is for organisations who wish to strengthen the case for their work by presenting accurate and relevant data about poverty to funders, supporters and policy and decision makers. To book your place on this course click here.

Our Exploring the Poverty Premium course is running on March 18th, 2020. Attendees on this half day course will be able to better understand the poverty premium, the way it affects customers, clients and consumers and how they can amend and ‘poverty proof’ their practices. To book your place on this course click here.

We aim to keep the cost of attending courses low, whilst looking to grow and develop our training offer and raise revenue for GMPA’s activities. All courses take place in central Manchester unless otherwise stated.


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UK Poverty 2019/20

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Latest JRF report shows the scale of the poverty problem

By Graham Whitham

UK Poverty 2019/20 is the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s annual landmark report on levels of poverty in the UK. It highlights the growing problem of in-work poverty, with over half of working age adults and three in ten children in poverty living in a household where at least one person is in work. The report shows that disabled people, single parents and people living in certain parts of the country are at greater risk of poverty.

In the UK, 14 million people are living below the poverty. Whilst progress was made in reducing poverty among certain groups (single parent families, children and pensioners) in the noughties, the JRF argue that progress is now beginning to unravel. Even poverty among pensioners, a group who’ve largely been protected from social security cuts, is starting to go up.

The report identifies the following policy solutions to help address poverty across the country:

  • “We need as many people as possible to be in good jobs. While the proportion of people in employment has risen consistently for six years, weak local economies in some parts of the country have led to higher unemployment, underemployment and more low pay than in the UK as a whole. This needs to change, with prospects for people in struggling places needing to be prioritised, or progress will stall. In addition, employment among disabled people and carers is still low, and they should be supported to work when they can.”
  • “We need to improve earnings for low-income working families, helping people in the lowest-paid jobs or working part-time. Too many people are stuck in low-paid, insecure jobs, with little chance of progression and too few hours of work to reach a decent living standard. Workers need more security, better training and opportunities to progress, particularly in part-time jobs. In-work poverty must be seen as a critical issue for our economy and given high priority by economic policy-makers.”
  • “We need to strengthen the benefits system so that it provides the anchor that people need in tough times.The current system needs to be improved to ensure it gives adequate support. We also need the system to offer a better service for people using it, and to shift public thinking so that a poverty-fighting social security system is seen as an essential public service and receives sustainable investment.”
  • “We need to increase the amount of low-cost housing available for families on low incomes and increase support for people with high housing costs. We also need to address the sense of insecurity felt by many people living in the private rented sector.”
Graham W UK poverty strategy article for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham
Director of GMPA

In Greater Manchester, as in other parts of England, we may feel we have limited powers to address poverty. However, the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign (hosted by GMPA), the Mayor’s Good Employment Charter and public sector commissioning that places a strong emphasis on social value can help improve the quality of work in the city region. We can begin to think more imaginatively and be more ambitious in the way we use what powers we do have over the benefits system. This means strengthening Council Tax Support and local welfare assistance schemes, and calling for the devolution of more parts of the social security system where that allows us to do more to address poverty locally. Whilst the JRF report doesn’t acknowledge the role of localities in addressing poverty, we at GMPA know there is no shortage of opportunities for stakeholders in Greater Manchester to address poverty if we’re given the power and resources to do so.



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Principal Partners 2020

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Could your organisation become a Principal Partner of GMPA?

We are delighted to confirm that 17 organisations have already signed up as Principal Partners of GMPA in 2020. The scheme is the main way we cover our core costs. We couldn’t do what we do without the support of organisations who share our vision of a Greater Manchester free from poverty.

Principal Partners support GMPA with pledges of funding and support. This year we’d really like to increase the number of principal partners to help secure GMPA’s future. If your organisation would be interested in becoming a Principal Partner, joining with the group represented below, please contact our director Graham Whitham.

Principal Partners logos Jan 2020 for GM Poverty Action

These are some of the reasons why organisations support GMPA in this way:

“Tackling poverty and inequality, wherever we find it, is the central mission of Oxfam, including in the UK, so we are very pleased to support the work of GMPA as a lead and convener, working in partnership to challenge policy and practice and make Greater Manchester a fairer place for all, placing the views and experiences of people in poverty at it’s heart”

                                                Anela Anwar, Head of Programme Development – UK Programme – Oxfam GB

“Addressing global inequalities is a key priority for researchers at The University of Manchester. Being a Principal Partner of Greater Manchester Poverty Action helps to build on our many collaborations to-date, ensuring our research impacts on policies and practices to reduce poverty and achieve more inclusive growth across our city region.”

                                            Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility, the University of Manchester

Our One Manchester vision commits us to using our skills and resources to build “Resilient Thriving Communities”. To achieve this it is essential that we work in partnership to address the effects of poverty, and it’s root causes. We provide money and debt advice in our communities, and support a range of projects that create opportunities to develop peoples potential. One Manchester supports Greater Manchester Poverty Action because we believe that it is only through working together and collective action that we can realise our ambitions.

                                                                                           Dave Power, Group Chief Executive, One Manchester

We would like to confirm our Principal Partners for 2020 by the end of the financial year, so do please get in touch if you would like to find out more.

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2019 – a busy year

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A busy year but the fight against poverty goes on

A big thank you to everyone who attended the Learning from lived experience meeting at Church House last week. Nearly 50 people came together to identify the themes and issues that have emerged from projects that sought to engage people with lived experience of poverty in policy making and with decision makers. In total 14 different groups were represented at the meeting.

With last week’s meeting building on the Inequality Hearing project  we ran with Oxfam earlier in the year, and a number of conversations taking place across Greater Manchester about running local poverty truth commissions, we are excited about the role GMPA can play in 2020 in bringing the voices of people experiencing poverty to the fore. The Inequality Hearing project was a 2019 highlight for GMPA, as we continue to grow our work and impact.

It has certainly been a busy year. Over the past 12 months we have shared 22 newsletters with you packed with a wide range of topical articles, opinion pieces, news, reports and events.  Other highlights have included:

•  launching our Mini Poverty Monitor
•  updating our poverty strategies map ,
•  hosting a one day conference ‘Prosperity for all?’ with the Inclusive Growth Analysis Unit, and
•  launching the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan.

Since the launch of the Action Plan, over 100 pledges have been made to tackle food poverty by organisations from across the city region. We will continue to support the implementation of the Action Plan in 2020.

We continue to host the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign . Our 2019 work on the Campaign culminated with Living Wage Week  in November. Please see John’s write up of Living Wage Week in the December 4th edition of the newsletter.

Our maps  of support services are extremely popular and well used and we have also provided a number of very well attended training courses. There are more training courses on our calendar for 2020 and you can book your places now .

This is our last 2019 Newsletter. We will be back in January, so If you would like to submit an article or event
information for inclusion in the newsletter, please do get in touch. Our contact details are shown on the following page.

We are proud of the impact our work is having, but we know that the fight against poverty continues and that we couldn’t do what we do without your support. Many, many people have worked with us in 2019 to achieve all of the above. Thank you.

In the meantime we would like to wish you a peaceful and happy CHRISTMAS SEASON and we look forward to a NEW YEAR full of opportunities that can be shared equally by everyone.

Graham, Tom, Chris and John

Busy year - Christmas decorations for GM Poverty Action


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Report on GM Living Wage week November 11th – 17th 2019

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This year’s Living Wage Week was a busy one for the GM Living Wage Campaign as we were involved in activities and events across Greater Manchester with partners and supporters.

GM Living Wage Campaign Living Wage Week Good Employment Charter for GM Poverty Action

Chris Smallwood, Martha Crawford and John Hacking

On Wednesday November 13th we ran a joint briefing event with The Good Employment Charter Implementation Unit at Salford Museum. The event was attended by over 25 employers who are supporters of the Greater Manchester Employment Charter and featured presentations on the benefits of the Living Wage from the GM Living Wage Campaign, Martha Crawford from the Living Wage Foundation and Chris Smallwood, MD of the Salford-based Living Wage Employer Anchor Removals. A blog on the Good Employment Charter website gives more information about the event.

At the Living Wage Foundation’s launch event in Salford on November  11th, Salford was recognised for its ambition to be England’s first accredited Living Wage Place. GM Living Wage Campaign is a member of Salford’s Living Wage Place Action group and a sponsor of the Living Wage bid. At the event there was the welcome announcement of Manchester City Council and Oldham Council becoming the latest GM local authorities to become Living Wage Employers. There was a commitment from Manchester City Council to take the next step to becoming a Living Wage Place and the GM Living Wage Campaign has been asked by Manchester City Council to work with them to achieve this objective.

On November 13th we partnered with Boo Consulting, a Living Wage Employer in Bolton to hold a Living Wage networking session. We attended the event along with 10 Bolton employers, some of whom are already  Living Wage Employers and others who wanted to know more. The event was a great success and we will be working with colleagues in Bolton to work towards Bolton becoming a Living Wage Place.

GM Living Wage Campaign Living Wage Week Tony 'Longfella' Walsh for GM Poverty Action

Tony ‘Longfella’ Walsh

We also ran an extensive social media campaign to raise awareness of the importance and benefits of paying the real Living Wage. The campaign celebrated accredited employers and featured key GM figures photographed showing their commitment to the campaign for the Living Wage. We had a range of supporters from local authorities, trade unions, voluntary and community sector organisations and private business. We also had a pledge of support from Manchester poet Tony Walsh aka Longfella. The hashtag #GMLivingWage was widely used through the week on Twitter. We also shared information through our social media networks, to support the action taken by GM Citizens at Stockport Town Hall to lobby Stockport Council to become a Living Wage Employer.

If you want any more information about Living Wage Week in particular or the GM Living Wage Campaign in general then email the GM Living Wage Campaign Coordinator John Hacking

Follow the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign on Twitter and Facebook



i3oz9sReport on GM Living Wage week November 11th – 17th 2019
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Living Wage Week 2019

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Living Wage Week
Monday November 11th – Sunday November 17th, 2019

By John Hacking, Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign Co-ordinator

Living Wage Week is almost upon us and the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign will be busy delivering, supporting and promoting a range of events and activities about the benefits and importance of paying the Real Living Wage. These are some of the activities that you can get involved with, but for up to the minute information during the week visit our Facebook Page or follow us on Twitter.

Wednesday November 13th, 2019 from 8.30 – 10am: the Campaign will be holding a joint event with the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter. The event is aimed at GM employers who are interested in the Charter and finding out more about the Living Wage and will be held in Salford Museum and I will be speaking along with local accredited Living Wage Employer, Anchor Removals, and the Living Wage Foundation. The event is for employers in GM and if you want to come along then please book a place here.

Real Living Wage Supporters Network event for GM Poverty Action

Wednesday November 13th, 2019 from 2 – 3.30pm: The Campaign is delighted to be partnering with another accredited Living Wage Employer, Boo Consulting, to deliver an exciting Living Wage Week event in Bolton later that day. I will be speaking again and any employer in Bolton can come along and find out more about the Living Wage. Book a place at this event here.

Other events and actions:

The Campaign is also working with accredited Living Wage Employer IKEA at their Ashton-under-Lyne branch to organise an in-store promotion to celebrate their continuing commitment as a Living Wage Employer. More detail on this will be on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The Campaign is still working with partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors on other events and activities during Living Wage Week. We are in close contact with GM Citizens and will be working with them to ensure maximum coverage for the message about the Living Wage throughout Greater Manchester. If you want any more information about Living Wage Week or the GM Living Wage Campaign then do send me an email. We hope to see you in Living Wage Week.




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